Chengdu Workshop held to review CRIHAP’s Capacity-Building Workshops (2012-18) and Recommend Future Activities

Review meeting on CRIHAP’s Capacity-Building Workshops and Recommendations on Future Activities ⓒ ICHCAP

From October 16 to 19, 2019, an integrated workshop was held in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, to assess the implications of and suggest future visions for the UNESCO Capacity-Building Workshops, which have been held by the International Training Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia‐Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (CRIHAP) from 2012 to 2018 in over 20 Asia-Pacific countries.

The workshop was designed to review CRIHAP’s activities and outcomes, and to discuss future directions and visions. It was organized by the UNESCO Beijing Office and Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television and Tourism, and co-organized by the Chengdu Preservation Centre of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The meeting was attended by 72 participants, including 11 representatives from UNESCO field offices, 6 UNESCO facilitators, 21 delegates from 19 beneficiary countries, 3 representatives from category 2 centers, and 31 culture specialists from different provinces in China.

During the opening ceremony on October 16, Himalchuli Gurung, Programme Specialist for Culture at the UNESCO Beijing Office, said that CRIHAP closely cooperated with UNESCO HQ, field offices, and local organizers in workshop operations, helping to achieve UNESCO’s strategic goals for Capacity-Building program. She further acknowledged that CRIHAP engaged many communities in the process of ICH safeguarding, raised awareness about the importance of ICH safeguarding, and allowed various ICH stakeholders to better understand the importance of ICH safeguarding.

Liang Bin, Director-General of CRIHAP, shared what has been achieved through the workshop over the last seven years. He noted that various workshop programs have received positive feedback from Asia-Pacific Member States, particularly on the ratification of the 2003 Convention, developing nominations, ICH safeguarding plans, ICH and education, and ICH in emergencies. He said that CRIHAP would continue to develop the workshop program, based on various opinions from 20 Asia-Pacific countries including China, Korea, Pakistan, Nepal, Vietnam, Fiji, and Mongolia.

On the second and third days, a series of discussions and presentations took place to examine the workshop’s achievements in earnest. Group discussions were held to look into various issues and potential improvements regarding workshop preparations by each country, selection of participants, translation/interpretation, program books, and field visits. Many national-level projects and activities implemented in a follow-up to the workshop were shared during the session. A number of presentations identified problems arising from workshop operations, including substantial delay in wiring the fund to local organizers, resulting in deterioration in the quality of translation/interpretation. It was also noted, however, that the workshop brought about various positive impacts, such as developing national ICH inventories and a far greater awareness on the overall mechanism of the international assistance and ICH safeguarding.

On the last day, the participants discussed more specific needs and suggestions for future workshops in the Asia-Pacific region. Many countries mentioned the necessity of an integrated management program for world heritage and ICH; a training program to respond to the new periodic reporting system; and a specialized training program for youth, journalists, and educators.

From 2017 to 2019, ICHCAP has organized the workshop jointly with CRIHAP, engaging various ICH stakeholders in Korea. The workshop focused on strengthening national capacities for the implementation of the 2003 Convention; community-based inventorying; and ICH and sustainable development. ICHCAP has been expanding the program to other thematic areas. In July 2019, ICHCAP held a workshop on “ICH and Education” at the Shanghai International Studies University, China, for 14 educational institutions of the Asia-Pacific Higher Education Network for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (APHEN-ICH). ICHCAP expects to take this meeting as an opportunity to strengthen its collaborative relationships with UNESCO and CRIHAP, and to further contribute to ICH safeguarding in 48 Asia-Pacific member states.